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Transcript: The 11th Hour with Stephanie Ruhle, 6/20/22

Guests: Carol Leonnig, Glenn Kirschner, Clint Watts, Sewell Chan; Tim Miller, David Plouffe


In the fourth 1/6 public hearing, the committee plans to reveal new insight on Trump`s role in pressuring states to overturn election results. A Missouri GOP Senate candidate releases a new political ad asking voters to go "RINO hunting." New reporting on the Uvalde shooting says that officers were ready with guns and shields, but not clear orders.


LAWRENC O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: We will continue the in depth discussion of tomorrow`s public hearing of the January 6 Committee. That is tonight`s Last Word. The 11th Hour with Stephanie Ruhle starts now.


STEPHANIE RUHLE, MSNBC HOST: Tonight, looking ahead to tomorrow`s January 6 hearing the pressure campaign based on lies and deception on the state level. How much did the former guy know about this big electoral scheme,

Plus, the big lie makes its way into the Republican Party platform in Texas. The new declarations made over the weekend moving the state`s GOP further to the right.

And new reporting on the police response to the vault a school shooting. We`ll bring you the detailed minute by minute account as the 11th Hour gets underway on this Monday night.

Good evening. Once again, I`m Stephanie Ruhle. It is the eve of another critical January 6 committee hearing. The panel`s fourth one starting tomorrow at 1:00 p.m. Eastern. California Congressman Adam Schiff will take the lead. The focus efforts to pressure state officials into overturning Joe Biden`s 2020 victory, a race, of course, he won fairly. I`m going to say it one more time, a race he won fairly, and the plan to get fake electors to Washington DC in time to stop the transfer of power on January 6.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF, (D-CA): This was, I think, really unprecedented in U.S. history, this broad effort to overturn a presidential election and you`ll see just what the weight of the presidency brought down on these officials.


RUHLE: And another hearing means more Republican witnesses and that`s what we`re going to get tomorrow. Arizona`s Republican House Speaker Rusty Bowers gets his turn. Committee aides tell NBC News he will detail for the first time how Trump and Rudy Giuliani leaned on him directly to overturn Biden`s victory in Arizona.

Joining Bowers tomorrow, two other Republican officials who are targets of a very similar pressure campaign, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who Trump famously asked to find those 11,780 votes and his deputy, Gabe Sterling, along with Shane Moss, a Georgia election worker who got personal death threats and harassment and was falsely accused of manipulating votes. She was just an election worker helping to count votes in the hours after the election. She got death threats.

Committee aides say the hearing will also show that Trump knew the pressure campaign could in fact become violent, but he pushed it anyway.


SCHIFF: We`ll be showing some of the evidence of the President`s role in this whole scheme of pressuring state legislators Donald Trump lost these states will explore the role that was played by the president by his campaign by lawyers.


RUHLE: Aides also tell NBC News that Trump`s then Chief of Staff Mark Meadows played a key role in the fake elector scheme. And the Washington Post now reporting that Trump`s advisors knew the fake elector plan had absolutely no legal basis that they pushed it anyway.

Meanwhile, at this point, more Americans, not Democrats, more Americans think Trump deserves to face consequences for the insurrection. And ABC News poll shows 58 percent of Americans say the former president should be charged with a crime for his role in the riots.

And the hearings are happening amid a growing concern of even more political violence in this country. Committee member Adam Kinzinger, one of two Republicans on that panel share a recent death threat against him and his family. And he had a warning for the nation.


REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): There`s violence in the future I`m going to tell you and until we get a grip on telling people the truth, we can`t expect any differently.


RUHLE: And just today, Missouri Republican Senate candidate Eric Greitens released a violent new political ad that shows him carrying a shotgun while hunting for rhinos. And I don`t mean the animals rhinos, less than loyal Republicans in name only. These aren`t Republicans who don`t like Trump. He also surround -- he`s also surrounded by military figures in battle gear as he encourages voters to join the MAGA crew.

Greitens campaign says the response to the ad from what he calls America first voters has been overwhelming and supportive. And then anybody who doesn`t get it is either lying or dumb.

With that, let`s do the opposite. Let`s get smarter with the head of our -- help of our lead off panel. Carol Leonnig joins us, Pulitzer Prize winning investigative reporter for The Washington Post. Former federal prosecutor, Glenn Glenn Kirschner. He has tried hundreds of cases in his 30-year career including murder trials, organized crimes and precedent setting cases, and Clint Watts, West Point graduate, Army veteran, former FBI Special Agent and a Distinguished Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute and maybe most importantly, all three dear friends of our show.


Glenn, this is a lot. What are you looking for tomorrow? What is the committee need to do?

GLENN KIRSCHNER, FMR. FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: So I think that committee needs to stay the course because we are learning things with each public hearing, I think of keen interest will be what Rusty Bowers has to say about Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani`s phone call to apply pressure to, you know, further their fake electoral scheme, because what we`re seeing Steph is a pattern emerging.

I mean, Donald Trump calling Brad Raffensperger and making that now infamous statement, you know, just find me 11,780 votes and Steph, that`s captured on an audio recording which reminds me of when I was trying Rico cases. And we had wiretap evidence, you know, I would call that a just press, play, trial, because you could play the very crime on an audio recording for the jury.

These are Rico cases. I would say my friend, Carol Leonnig covered back in the day when I was trying them. And that`s what we have in this tape that, you know, Brad Raffensperger, or somebody gave over to the authorities.

But you see this constellation of criminal conduct false selectors, false court challenges by Rudy Giuliani, the weaponization of the Department of Justice, via Jeffrey Clark, fake collectors and attack on the Capitol and delayed certification. It really is a remarkable constellation of criminal conduct.

RUHLE: All right, Glenn. But here`s why a lot of people don`t buy it. We heard that tape of Trump and Raffensperger find the 11,000. What was it two years ago, and he hasn`t faced any consequences? Why do you think he will now?

KIRSCHNER: You know what, Steph, nobody can accuse the Department of Justice of delivering timely accountability. That has been a sticking point for so many of us, so many of the American people who see this criminal conduct, you know, happening in plain sight in the harsh light of day.

But that`s why I think these public hearings by the J6 committee are really important. They`re pulling it together. They`re distilling it. They`re making it informative, entertaining and compelling. And hopefully, that moves the ball.

RUHLE: OK, but Clint, we got that audio January of 2021, just before January 6. Again, I don`t mean to be dogging on the Department of Justice. But for those who believe in the rule of law, that is clearly some sort of violation. What else could the DOJ be working on that now, a year and a half has passed? And there`s -- and the President hasn`t faced any consequences? Former president.

CLINT WATTS, FMR. FBI SPECIAL AGENT: Yes, that`s the big tragedy of all this, Steph, is we know why this happened on January 6, is because the President said to walk up to the Capitol, it`s because in the months before that he claimed that the election was stolen without evidence, and he had put pressure on these election officials. That`s why I think the case in Georgia is so particularly important, because what`s to prevent this from happening? Again, we`re heading into a congressional year where you now have the same people that deny the election, the same election that President Trump knew that he lost.

You now have state and local officials, who are people running for state and local office that still deny the outcome of the election, that will never accept the fact that they might lose an election in the future.

So I think the reason this particular case I mean, the one in Georgia is very straightforward, as Glenn was talking about. The evidence is there, it`s very straightforward to try to manipulate election in a state. It is a crime, it should be charged. I don`t understand why we would let this go because the President is just astoundingly dangerous going into this fall, where we have candidates that are running that deny the election.

We have people that are running just because they want to overturn the 2020 election, even though that`s not even in the job description most of the time. And we`ve seen the violence that`s been cropping up all around in terms of intimidation at polling places, intimidation of electoral workers. We`re going to see this when we go to the areas tomorrow.

RUHLE: The fact that we have a poll worker testifying tomorrow shows how far down this went. And we should remind our audience, Brad Raffensperger, the Secretary of State who refused to help Trump in finding those 11,000 votes. He clearly is still an adversary to the former president. He just won his primary in that state.

Carol, I want to get into the new pretty stunning reporting from the Washington Post. But before we get there, explain this to our audience. What is an elector? What do they do? Why would they be in Washington?

CAROL LEONNIG, THE WASHIGNTON POST INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: You know, much like Vice President Pence, then-Vice President Pence was performing essentially a ceremonial role, certifying the election of results from all over the country. Electors have a similar ceremonial role. They`re chosen by their state officials before the election and by the way you can`t appoint.


There is no law. There is no policy. There is no protocol under which you can choose new electors after the election. That`s something Donald Trump didn`t want anyone to know or hear. And he certainly didn`t want to hear it either. But that`s the law, that`s the fact.

State electors are also there to present the elections to review, oversee them and say, these are our results. The cockamamie scheme that Donald Trump and Team Trump proposed at every turn was one that as a very ardent conservative Republican told me today on background, the whole idea was nuts. Nobody who has a law degree would have pursued it. And yet, Team Trump did. Trump wanted it to happen.

And he wanted it to happen, Steph, not just because he liked the law or the extra change. He wanted to give Vice President Pence some talking points, some gusto, some justification for refusing to certify the election on January 6, and doesn`t want to -- go ahead. I`m sorry.

RUHLE: And Carol, the why is it that ardent conservative Republican who you spoke to on background today? Where were they all this time? This is the party that calls itself the rule of law party. Right? And if our system doesn`t work, then our country doesn`t.

Why did so few Republicans who right there as you said this was preposterous, it was a cockamamie scheme. Why is that they stand up and speak out?

LEONNIG: You know, this is a extremely sensitive question to answer because what I`m going to say to you now is, I know conservative Republicans who are spiriting away their themselves and their family, for their own safety against Donald Trump, against the Mr. Greitens who`s recommending shooting rhinos, you know, the fear is real about what can be sicked on you if you stand up and speak.

Now, of course, I don`t think everyone`s in danger if they say -- if they call a ball and strike a ball and a strike, look at Brad Raffensperger. I mean, he got death threats. Gabriel Sterling in Georgia also got death threats. They are standing tall.

But it`s hard for me sitting here in my house reporting on these events to say that conservative Republicans are not in danger. When they stand up and say, This is a cockamamie scheme. You got to quit it, Donald Trump.

RUHLE: These are such important points Carol is making because Clint, Rusty Bowers, he warned of this back in December of 2020. We heard from Gabe Sterling, we heard from Brad Raffensperger, they told the country what Trump and his team were doing, and not enough people cared. Do you believe this is going to break through now this time?

WATTS: I don`t think it will. I would be a little bit surprised if it did. Partly because the big lies continued on even when the Trump team has largely abandoned that conspiracy. It is taken on by their followers.

Just remember back to President Trump denying vaccines then he later admits that he had the vaccine and he got booed. The same thing is happening with his supporters who believe that big lie. They can`t go back on it. Now they have to continue to pursue it.

I think my bigger concern is just over the horizon, we`re looking at a lot of trends that are very much about the breakup of the United States is that we`re certain degree, no election can be conducted without someone`s saying that it`s some sort of sort of broad or some sort of criminal activity behind it, separate sets of electors. Looking at what`s going on. I think you`re going to talk about it later, what`s going on in Texas right now talking about secessionist movements, essentially at this point.

So this is sort of the slow breakup of the democracy. And that`s what began under the Trump presidency, which is there is no truth except for the perceptions of those that are in power. What I`m worried about, particularly in this year, is will this sustain or will it wane? I think we`re really in an inflection point, it could go either way which is do people in general want to have a sane democracy, where everyone votes in a very civil and peaceful way. And the winner becomes the elected official on the other side of it. Or will they continue to try and distort reality and really misperceive people about what`s going on in this country over a longer term.

That`s where we`re facing right now. We`re six months away from election day. This is what we`re facing the final six months and I think that`s why these hearings tomorrow, maybe are the most important of all of them because it really goes to the fortitude and integrity of our elections. Not just last election, but from this election on work from here.


We got elections in a few states happening tomorrow. Glenn, take us out of philosophy class where one might say Trump should face consequences, should be prosecuted and take us to math, probability and statistics.

Just yesterday, one of Trump`s former advisors said Trump knew that he lost and still went ahead and pushed all of this. Do you think he is going to be prosecuted? How difficult is this not should he will he be?

KIRSCHNER: I believe he will, Steph, because I think the Department of Justice appreciates that if they don`t bring charges for the crimes that he inarguably committed. Then what they will be doing is giving permission to the 2024 Republican candidate to do everything Donald Trump just did. And then some because let`s face it, if DOJ declines to prosecute, that will be perceived as an endorsement of everything Donald Trump did.

You know, if it`s Donald Trump running in 2024, if I were him, I would drag a cardboard cutout of Merrick Garland up on the campaign stage, drape my arm over it and say, You know what, if I had committed any crimes, you can bet this man would have prosecuted me he didn`t. That means the whole thing was a witch hunt. We are in dire, dire straits if DOJ declines to prosecute Donald Trump.

RUHLE: But how is that different than the last impeachment? Right? Republicans, including former President Trump and his White House knew that he lost, yet you had scores of Republicans in the House, unwilling to certify the election, then we had the impeachment hearing, and he wasn`t impeached a second time. Why do you think this time will be different despite the fact that he should have been given what he had done?

KIRSCHNER: Because impeachment is a political endeavor. Frankly, it`s a no holds barred, evidence free endeavor, as we have learned, and there is no fair and impartial jury sitting in judgment, there is no judge calling balls and strikes. Frankly, the whole thing is political theater.

Once we get an indictment, and we get a judge ruling on the admissibility of evidence, and we get a jury impaneled that is determined to abide by its oath to sit fairly and independently in judgment. I believe they can and will be persuaded by the evidence.

RUHLE: Carol, as these hearings have started, many people have said this is terrible for Trump. This is terrible for his family. He must hate this. And then it was just a few days ago, the last hearing when he put out that post on the social media platform, demanding equal airtime. I remembered. There is no bad news for him. There`s just a tension. He wants it. He loves it. He needs it, knowing him as well as you do.

What is that -- what how is this for him? How does Trump feel about all this? What`s going through his head? We`re talking about him.

LEONNIG: Well, he definitely I`ll tell you when he raises like the whack-a- mole out of the out of the box at the bizarre when he raises up in tweets, I think he`s really ticked off now. And that happened when Ivanka Trump`s testimony was offered in which she said I respected Bill Barr. And when he said that the election was free and fair, and there was no evidence of fraud. I accepted that as fact. I`m paraphrasing her a little but that`s what she said. Donald Trump popped up and said, Wait a minute, my what? My daughter is really lovely, but she doesn`t know anything about elections.

That to me, told me that was a sore, sore spot for him. Somebody so close to him saying, You know what? The election was fair. I know it wasn`t rigged. He did not want that said. There are a couple other places, though, I think where you see him being ticked off that he`s not getting free and equal time. And I think the committee rightfully says, You know what free and equal time is Mr. Trump, it`s sitting in a witness chair and giving testimony under oath. And he has so far not provided that.

I want to add one thing to what my great friend and prosecutor who I covered often, Glenn Kirschner mentioned, which is about the trial and the evidence. One thing that bodes well for prosecution, I`m not a person who pushes one thing or another.

But one thing that bodes well in my mind for prosecution is that the charges of sedition that have already been brought against Proud Boys and all Oath Keepers center on one prong of the law, and that is trying to violently obstruct a proceeding, a government proceeding, essentially a congressional one to try to interrupt in January 6.

Well, we have all the evidence in front of us of how Donald Trump and Team Trump and I make that a broader group engaged in a conspiracy.


Again, we have the evidence, not the proof, but the evidence suggesting that he engaged in a conspiracy with multiple people to block a government proceeding. And while he may not have used a gun for it, he is a lot of lies, lies, he knew where lies. Lies that he was told over and over again by his Attorney General, his daughter, his chief of staff, his White House Counsel.

You have to be willfully blind not to know that you were pushing a lie, and you were using it to obstruct the government proceeding. The Department of Justice has already put down a chip. This is the other chip.

RUHLE: Clint, this is what you study extremism and extreme groups. What would it take to connect or have they connected the former president to the Proud Boys?

WATTS: I think those are some of the most important questions really, which is, there are some key people with the Oath Keepers it was Roger Stone. Roger Stone was a key conduit for them. And he was seen in and around, they were essentially bodyguards for him on that day.

Separately with the Proud Boys, the communications that were coming out in the indictment that you saw for seditious conspiracy were very clear that they thought they were in coordination or in communication or working in concert with the White House to some degree that there was some sort of conduit there.

I`m hoping that committee will build to a point where they will reveal what those are or that the Department of Justice separately will continue to work this case, working on each of these individuals that`s been charged in that conspiracy charge to try and get them to break away and get more details in terms of what those communications are.

I think my biggest surprise through all of this is yes, we`ve watched the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers, basically film themselves commit federal crimes throughout this. But even those encrypted messaging applications, someone must have given them a bone with those messages still intact. There has to be at least one or more informants that`s helping investigators from both the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers.

I just wonder if there`s more evidence out there we just don`t know about yet. And maybe I would imagine if you`re the DOJ, you`re waiting for these hearings to unfold to see what other evidence you could gather along with your charges. And at the same point, see who wants to flip or turn as they watched these committee hearings go on week after week. Some people may want to work with the DOJ now that didn`t want to work with them two or three weeks ago.

RUHLE: Well, along with millions of other Americans, I know the four of us will be watching tomorrow at 1:00 p.m. Eastern right here on MSNBC. The fourth committee hearing will be airing. Carol Leonnig, Glenn Kirschner, Clint Watts, thank you all so much. Great to see you guys.

Coming up, alarming and disturbing new details on the police response to the Uvalde school shooting. The Editor in Chief of the Texas Tribune is here on his papers stunning new reporting. And later, we`ll bring you the almost unbelievable list of changes made to the Republican Party platform in that same state, Texas, one example, they are rejecting that Biden won the presidency. The 11th Hour just getting underway on this very important Monday night. Stick around.




STATE SEN. ROLAND GUTIERREZ (D) TEXAS 19th DISTRICT: What I`m tired of is different agencies pointing the finger at one another. I think that we all know in the United States that there was failure at every law enforcement level here. At some point we need to get to the sheer bottom of it and have law enforcement tell us exactly what happened.


RUHLE: We are learning troubling new details tonight about the horrific shooting in Uvalde, Texas last month. The Texas Tribune is just out in the last few minutes with new reporting on what heavily armed police were actually doing for more than an hour as they waited outside to confront the gunman.

With us tonight, Sewell Chan, Editor in Chief of the Texas Tribune. Sewell, your paper has uncovered some truly disturbing stuff. NBC News has not yet verified some of the details. But I know the latest piece is just out what can you tell us?

SEWELL CHAN, TEXAS TRIBUNE EDITOR IN CHIEF: Well, we were able to able to examine timelines, video footage and other records and really offer a minute by minute account of the excruciating 77 minutes between the arrival of the gunman and his being taken down. And of course, the nature of what happened during those 77 minutes. The decisions were made. The equipment that was available but not used right away. That`s all under investigation.

RUHLE: The tribune is reporting is now raising a big question. It`s not even clear that the classroom doors were locked. Is that true?

CHAN: Yes, that`s a crucial discrepancy. We interviewed the Uvalde schools police chief and he told us that in fact, officers had tried the doors, two rooms 111 and 112. That`s a crucial question. Now the video footage that we have reviewed and that others are starting to review, you know, shows no suggestion to back that off.

But I want to caution that, you know, we don`t know that the video footage contains everything, right. Is it possible that someone tried to check the doors before the footage that we`ve been able to review? You know, just tried to be cautious about that, but it`s of course raising very serious questions.

RUHLE: And why is it that people aren`t going to get to see this video footage?

CHAN: Well, that`s a great question, Stephanie. Texas media have been trying, you know, all manner of ways to get public records and get interviews.


We`ve been hitting a lot of closed doors literally and figuratively, the state and local officials have declined many public records requests. I think I speak for a lot of Texas journalists and saying that, you know, we`ve been really frustrated. We may get some answers tomorrow, when the head of the Texas Department for Public Safety testifies before the Texas Senate.

RUHLE: So if the media is getting stonewalled, what about the families who just want answers? Right. Uvalde is not a big, big city. It`s a relatively small community.

CHAN: One thing Stephanie, that`s so important to remember is at the city of roughly 15,000 people, working class overwhelmingly Hispanic. There, it seems like everyone there knows a cop, a teacher, the survivor, or new a victim or victims relative.

So I would say that a lot of people have been actually very withholding of anger or judgment. But you`re starting to see in the testimony before Congress recently, and then probably -- and then in the hearings that are coming right now, you`re starting to see the anger and frustration bubble up, because we`ve been in touch with many, many of the survivors and victim`s families, and they`re not being told much.

RUHLE: The State House committee investigating the shooting was in session this afternoon. I know it was behind closed doors. But what are your reporters able to find out, anything?

CHAN: Yes, they are doing a lot to reconstruct right now. They`re trying to get a minute by minute account. They`re trying to get testimony from all the witnesses. These lawmakers made a decision to hold everything behind closed doors, saying that it`s a quasi judicial proceeding.

Now we`re hearing from a lot of survivors anger about that, because they`re saying the gunman said, like, there`s no smoking. There`s no question here of who did it. The question is the why and the how, right. And I think that the, you know, so far the lack of details and why and how, you know, that`s what`s been really frustrating.

But we were able to provide today was a lot of details. They had shields. They had plenty of weaponry. They had plenty of people. And by the way, I want to be very clear these law enforcement officers, and there was many to 60 to 80 involved in the response. They weren`t waiting around. Right? We revealed that they were asking agonizing questions that now the public is asking, Well, why aren`t we doing something? Are those kids still in the room? Should we confront the gunman? Why aren`t we acting?

And you know, there`s going to be a lot of questions about why, you know, the clear decision wasn`t me to go in and confront until 77 minutes past.

RUHLE: There were 60 to 80 members of law enforcement on site?

CHAN: Yes, you`ve got to remember, there`s a border community. So you`ve got Border Patrol, DEA, Uvalde city police, Uvalde schools police, which is a separate unit that broke off four years ago. And that`s a new phenomenon in Texas, a relatively new phenomenon. You got you Marshal Service, you got Texas Rangers.

You know, and I think that one of the questions we`re asking, right is command and coordination. Anybody running a complex, you know, operation knows that, you know, communication, you know, coordination, getting things, clear lines of accountability, and command, you know, those really, really important.

And, you know, I`m very hesitant to say as the editor who fails, I think it`s the job of the investigators to find that out. But there`s probably a lot of responsibility to go around.

RUHLE: Officers with rifles arrived 90 minutes in, nobody went in for over 70 minutes. Sewell, thank you so much for your reporting. It couldn`t be more important at a time like this. I really appreciate it. Sewell Chan from the Texas Tribune.

CHAN: Thank you, Stephanie.

RUHLE: When we come back, we`re going to stay on the state of Texas and this time, we`re talking about the world of Republicans and in the world of Texas Republicans, Joe Biden is not the president. And being gay is an abnormal lifestyle choice, and they hope the rest of the country jumps aboard their hard right MAGA platform. That is next when the 11 Hour continues.




MATTHEW DOWD, FMR. CHIEF STRATEGIST TO BUSH-CHENEY CAMPAIGN: They basically are showing in Texas that if we don`t hold accountable, as this -- as democracy is demand old dismantled, Texas which is showing what they`re going to do if that happens. Texas is showing this is what they want America to look like.


RUHLE: Please turn up the volume for this. It`s important. Texas Republicans approved a list of far right changes for its official party platform at the state`s GOP convention. I want to share some of the things that included rejecting the 2020 results and claiming President Biden was not legitimately elected. Sidenote, he absolutely was. It also declares homosexuality as quote, an abnormal lifestyle choice. It urges the state legislator to abolish abortion, since life begins at fertilization, and Texas retains the right to secede from the United States.

They also declared all gun control a violation of the Second Amendment and God`s given right. And rebuked senators like John Cornyn, as he takes part in bipartisan gun safety negotiations. He was booed while he was giving a speech at the convention over the past weekend.

So let`s discuss. With us tonight David Plouffe, former Obama campaign manager and senior adviser to the President and Tim Miller, a contributor to The Bulwark and former communications director for Jeb Bush.

Tim, is this just a Texas test to see how national Republicans overall will react to this hard move to the right?


TIM MILLER, THE BULWARK CONTRIBUTOR: I think we kind of know, Stephanie, you know, just for starters to get the record straight. I do think that homosexuality is a fabulous lifestyle reality, one that I`m experiencing and enjoying quite a bit. But look, I here`s the scary part about what happened in Texas.

RUHLE: Hold on. Hold on, Tim. Let`s not be funny. Let`s not be funny.


RUHLE: It`s not. Do you consider -- hold on. But I`m being serious, but I`m being serious. It might be a fabulous lifestyle. But do you consider it a choice? Because that`s how they`re trying to frame it.

MILLER: No, of course, as I said, it`s reality. Of course not. Of course it isn`t. But you know what, this has been what but anti-gay bigots have been saying for decades. And right now they`re on the rise again, not just in Texas, but Florida with the downside gay bill. And then Arizona, we saw as we get on the governor, candidate, Kerry Lake who`s, you know, stigmatizing drag queens despite the fact that she used to love taking her kids to drag brunch, like this is just what is in vogue now.

But in Texas, what is actually here, what is that serious, but what is increasingly serious and alarming in Texas, is that the people are in charge are simpatico with the -- with these activists, right. This is not a case where you have some far right activists, and you`ve got mainstream politicians that are trying to navigate the breach. Right.

You have Dan Patrick as lieutenant Governor, Greg Abbott as governor, the Attorney General Ken Paxton. Ken Paxton tried to overturn the 2020 election. He was the attorney general that sent the lawsuit. Greg Abbott just signed the abortion bounty bill. Greg Abbott just signed a bill to make gay teachers have to be fearful that they have to go back in the closet. Florida copycat bill.

So what the actual politicians in charge are doing is right in line, maybe all the way up until six secession, you know, with what these activists were pushing, and that is, I think the thing that`s particularly alarming oh, what`s happening in Texas.

RUHLE: What`s alarming, David is politicians don`t do things unless they believe that`s what voters want. Part of this Texas GOP platform is calling for repealing the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Right. That`s the act that simply bans racial discrimination in voting. What message is that sending to the country?

DAVID PLOUFFE, FMR. OBAMA CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Well, Stephanie, I think are sending a clear message. Listen, these are hateful lunatics, but they`re not a hateful lunatic fringe. I mean, this is sort of mainstream now. I mean, I think, first of all, you`re going to see copycats like this now. This is now going to be opening bid. And you`re going to see other state Republican parties, try and go even further this, that`s number one.

Number two, listen, the views in that a portion (ph) document that you talked about in the show, you know, they`re probably in some states 50 percent of the Republican voters would agree with him. In some states, it`s less 30 percent. And what`s going to stop this is there`s clear majorities in this country, very clear, verbally, Joe Biden was elected president.

Now, they don`t do not believe homosexuality is an abnormal lifetime choice that believe in the Voting Rights Act. They believe we should have things like background checks, and raising the age on assault weapons.

But if those people vote for basically the equivalent of the leaders who just, you know, put forward this Texas document, we`re going to be in great, great trouble here. And so I think that`s the really important message is to understand this is not 5 percent. This is not 10 percent. This is not 15 percent. This is a big, big percentage of the Republican primary electorate and to your point, Republican politicians are trying to follow them and not get stampeded by them.

RUHLE: Tim, these revisions were approved as the official Texas GOP platform. Last I checked, this is George Bush`s home state. What happened to George Bush`s -- George Bush Republicans in Texas?

MILLER: Well, we could do a whole symposium on that, Stephanie. The short answer is this. This was always a minority within the Republican Party. Sorry, this is a new thing. We shouldn`t pretend like it was. We should -- we saw -- I saw signs of this at Republican County Convention I was working at back 20 years now. So we always knew that this minority existed in the party.

When Trump took over the party something happened with the member, the membership, the makeup of the party, about 10 percent people like me, other suburban Republicans left the party became independents or Democrats. They`re part of the Joe Biden coalition.

Now, another 10 percent came into the party. These are the working class white voters who used to be Perot voters and Buchanan voters. And so now the old school kind of Christian conservative base of the party on top of the new Trump voters, they make a majority of the party right now. And so that`s what happened to George Bush`s party in Texas. He lost control. They lost control of it, and now you`re the more extreme side has a one certainly a plurality, if not an outright majority.

RUHLE: David, what`s the chance that the future of the Republican Party isn`t Donald Trump? It`s Ron DeSantis. Washington Post has a headline saying Floridians give DeSantis big points for his COVID response, forgetting how many people died there.

PLOUFFE: Well, listen, I have said this on more than one occasion, so I`m sure that these video clips will be served back to me.


I don`t think Trump`s going to run. But even if he does, I think you`re going to see that DeSantis is of the world and many other candidates know that this is their one shot to run for the presidency, and they`re going to go for it. And they`re not going to treat Trump with kid gloves.

You know, in `16, he kind of steamrolled the field. I mean, a little bit of that as urban legend, but he definitely kind of bullied a lot of the field, although he started with a lead and really never relinquished it.

So I think it`s going to be a really rough primary. And we know I`ll thin skinned and brittle he is. And so that`s why at the end of the day, I think there`s going to be a lot of Republicans who say, Listen, we should build monuments all over the country to Donald Trump, but we`re not sure he can win because it`s untreated fairly by the press. So let`s nominate someone who basically will carry forth the Trump agenda, but we believe is a little more electable. Right now DeSantis is playing that role in that television movie. I think others will audition.

But Trump is even if he runs, he is not going to have a straight path to the nomination. I think it`s going to be a brutal race. And, you know, what will be interesting to me is, you know, does he make his decision yes or no in the first quarter of 2023? Or does he drag this out? My suspicion would be the latter, because he wants to harm the rest of the field.

RUHLE: We`ll soon find out. David Plouffe, Tim Miller, thank you both for joining tonight. I appreciate it.

Coming up, what the President is saying today about a gas tax holiday what it might actually mean for you at the pump when the 11th Hour continues. We`re going to break it down.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, considering (INAUDIBLE) on the federal gas tax?

JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: It`s going to be soon.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How soon can be expect the decision?

BIDEN: Well, I hope I have a decision based on my data I`m looking forward by the end of the week.


RUHLE: It is not new news that gas prices are high. What is new news? Is the President right there confirming he is looking at implementing a federal tax holiday. So what does that mean? What does it look like? When we buy gas we pay state and federal taxes. Well, three states have already implemented a tax holiday with more states planning or considering doing it. And consumers there have been benefiting.

However, and pay attention to this, many experts out there say it might not be a good idea, why. First, if prices go down, likely demand will go up. And when demand goes up, prices likely shoot back up. Also, there is no guarantee that the oil and gas companies and gas stations are going to pass along the tax cuts to us, the drivers.

And you always have to remember if they cut from something you`re going to have to pay somewhere else. A tax holiday will leave a huge hole in infrastructure funding. And the last one and this is a question that`s been posed by economist Justin Wolfers from University of Michigan, who says when prices go up, isn`t the government`s job to step in and get them lower?

For example, should you subsidize your next door neighbor if they`re driving a gas guzzling SUV to make their gas cheaper, when truthfully, the poorest Americans aren`t driving their own cars. They`re taking the bus to work. Does this really help the most Americans? Unclear.

The good news right now, gas is less than five bucks a gallon, however, it`s likely to go back up. We`re breaking it down gas tax holiday could be coming.

Coming up next right here, though, two comedians, you know, well, we`ll meet in Ukraine`s capitol to bring attention to something we should all, all care about when the 11th Hour continues.




BEN STILLER, COMEDIAN: Hey, I`m Ben Stiller, and I`m here in Ukraine. I`m meeting people who`ve been impacted by the war and hearing how it`s changed their lives. War and violence are devastating people all over the world. Nobody chooses to flee their home. Seeking safety is a right and it needs to be upheld for every person.


RUHLE: The last thing before we go tonight, and perhaps the most important, be a blessing to somebody. Actor and comedian Ben Stiller has spent the last few days in Poland in Ukraine, touring the destruction and meeting with war refugees as part of his role as a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations.

And today the Zoolander star got the chance to meet with another famous comedian who has since turned politician, Ukraine`s President Zelenskyy.



STILLER: Very nice to meet you.

ZELENSKYY: You`re welcome.

STILLER: Thanks for taking the time.

ZELENSKYY: Great. But I know, we know who you are.

STILLER: It`s a great honor for me. And nice to see you. It`s really wonderful. You`re my hero. As you quit a great acting career business.

ZELENSKYY: Not so great.

STILLER: No, they`re pretty great. But what you`ve done in the way that you`ve rallied the country and what you know for the world. It`s really inspiring.


RUHLE: Did you hear that? You`re my hero. Well, today just so happens to be June 20 World Refugee Day. And former President Obama marked the day with a post that read the following, on World Refugee Day, we recognize the challenges that refugees face, honor their courage and celebrate their contributions to our country. He also posted this moving video that feature is the lasting words of the great Maya Angelou.


MAYA ANGELOU, AMERICAN MEMOIRIST: I`ve had so many rainbows in my cloud. I had a lot of clouds that I have had so many rainbows. And the thing to do it seems to me is to prepare yourself so that you can be a rainbow in somebody else`s color. Somebody who may not look like you. May not call God the same name you may God at all. I may not eat the same dishes prepared the way you do. The dance your dances. Speak your language. But be a blessing to somebody. That`s what I think.



RUHLE: Be a blessing to somebody. How about we all wake up tomorrow with that goal, that would make quite a wonderful world and a great Maya Angelou and her words, take us off the air this evening.

On that note, I wish you all a very good and safe night. And from all of our colleagues across the networks of NBC News, thanks for staying up late with us. I`ll see you tomorrow.